It Was a Very Good Year


It Was a Very Good Year

"It Was a Very Good Year" is a song composed by Ervin Drake in 1961 and subsequently made famous by Frank Sinatra. His version won the Grammy Award for Best Vocal Performance, Male in 1966. Gordon Jenkins was awarded Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist(s) for the Sinatra version. This single peaked at #28 on the U.S. pop chart, and it became Sinatra's first #1 single on the "Easy Listening chart", which "Billboard" had begun publishing in 1961. [Whitburn, Joel (1996). "The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits", 6th Edition (Billboard Publications)] The song can be found on Sinatra's 1965 album "September of My Years".

The song recounts the type of girls the singer had relationships with at various years in his life. When he was 17, small-town girls on the village green; 21, city girls who lived up the stair; 35, blue-blooded girls of independent means. Each of these he calls a "very good year." But now that the singer is older, he thinks back on his life "as vintage wine." All of these romances were sweet to him, like a wine from a very good (i.e. vintage) year.

Ervin Drake wrote "It Was a Very Good Year" within one hour specifically for Bob Shane of the Kingston Trio to record. The song has a flamenco chord structure

Recordings

* This song was introduced by the Kingston Trio on their album "Going Places" (1961). This is the recording that influenced Frank Sinatra to want to record his version. The live performance recording session was video taped by CBS News, which had been following the singer for months. He walks over to the rhythm section and can be heard saying that he heard the Kingston Trio do it on his car radio, and he thought it would be a good song for the album. The VHS is available on Amazon, It is called "Sinatra Off The Record".
* It was released on 45 rpm single on Pye Records in 1963, by Lonnie Donegan.
* The Turtles recorded a version on their debut album, "It Ain't Me Babe."
* Wes Montgomery included a version of the song in his 1965 album "Goin' Out Of My Head".
* Gábor Szabó recorded a version in his 1966 album "Spellbinder" .
* William Shatner did a spoken-word cover of this song interspersed with lines from "Hamlet" on his 1968 album "The Transformed Man".
* Lou Rawls covered this song in 1968, produced by David Axelrod. Rawls also performed it just before his death on 2006's "An Evening of Stars" telethon, backed by the Rickey Minor Band.
*"Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In" did a skit where Dan Rowan changes army uniforms from World War II, Korea, and then Vietnam as the song plays in the background.
* In 1970, Michael Jackson sang a parody of this song in a skit with Diana Ross during the "Diana!" TV Special.
* In the 78th episode of "The Muppet Show", Statler and Waldorf performed the song from their box.
* British pop star Robbie Williams recorded a version for his album "Swing When You're Winning", in duet with Sinatra's original vocals.
* In a 1993 episode of "The Simpsons", Homer sings a parody of this song entitled "I Drank Some Very Good Beer", recounting the first beer he ever purchased (with a fake I.D.)
* The Flaming Lips covered this song in 1993 on the compilation "Chairman of the Board (Interpretations of Songs Made Famous by Frank Sinatra)".
* The Reverend Horton Heat covered the song in 2000 and released it as a single to promote the album "Spend a Night in the Box".
* It has been adapted in French, as "C'était une très bonne année", by Robert Charlebois on his 2001 album "Doux sauvage".
* In 2003, Paul Young included a cover version with a particularly interesting musical score on his album "The Essential Paul Young"
* Ray Charles covered the song (as a duet with Willie Nelson) on his 2004 album "Genius Loves Company".
* In 2005, They Might Be Giants made a on their first ever podcast.
* In 2006, Gordon Goodwin's Big Phat Band recorded a version for the album "The Phat Pack".
* It was used as the opening song in the second season premiere of the HBO drama "The Sopranos". The entire Sinatra recording is played while the viewers see how things have gone since the previous season ended. There is no dialog.

References


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